September 15 through October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage month. As a country we celebrate the heritage, culture, and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans. Of course this type of celebrating does not just happen during this month but is incorporated throughout all we do all year long.
As a young African-American girl it was hard for me during the month of February when I felt that Black History month was spent learning about slavery and hardship. The celebratory aspect was often lost for me. As a teacher I have tremendous power over how students feel during these months of celebration. In our classroom community we choose to celebrate stories, authors, and people who represent this rich culture of beauty and strength. It is important to acknowledge and participate with the rest of the country as we pause to lift up our fellow Hispanic and Latino Americans. Here are the stories, biographies, and histories our classroom community has enjoyed during this time…
Little Night, Nochecita by Yuyi Morales
My class fell in love with the playful nature of Little Night. They wanted to take time to look through all the pictures to find all the places Mother Sky looked for Little Night. They also enjoyed having the Spanish text to go along with the English text. One student commented, “I feel like we are playing hide and seek too!”
Little People, Big Dreams Frida Kahlo
“Frida Kahlo taught the world to wave goodbye to bad things and say “Viva la vida…Live life.”
This quote from the text has sparked a saying in our classroom community as things happen throughout the day you can often hear someone saying, “viva la vida”. This picture book biography was the first introduction to the life and work of Frida Kahlo for each and every one of my students. They were fascinated by how she overcame so many things. They couldn’t believe how she was able to draw from her bed or how she used mirrors to draw self-portraits.
Nino Wrestles the World and Rudas by Yuyi Morales
These two laugh out loud stories captured the attention of all my students almost immediately. They jumped right in and read along with me as the author so beautifully combined Spanish and English to tell and adventure tale of Nino. Students said that you couldn’t read one without the other and many tried to use many of Morales craft moves in their own writing.
Separate is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh
But why? But why? But why? This question could be heard over and over again as students listened to the story of Sylvia Mendez in this beautifully written account of her family’s fight for justice. This is definitely a book we will visit again and again as we think about people who have overcome adversity.
Maya’s Blanket, La Manta De Maya by Monica Brown
According to my students this book read like a guessing game. They couldn’t wait to see what Maya and her abuelita would create next with the
fabric from the blanket. I noticed that his book also sparked many ideas for writing. Students used the example of the playful text structure to create their own recycling tale.
Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell
In addition to the wonderful story of Mira and how she joined forces with an artist to create beautiful murals in her community my students were captivated by the author’s note in the end. Once they discovered that this story was based on the true story of Rafael and Candice Lopez ,who organized to create beautiful murals around their city, they started thinking of how they could do similar things in our community.
Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales
We got to the last page where Grandma Beetle gave a wink and the class erupted, “
READ IT AGAIN” and so we did! Students love to read it along with me as the text has a playful repetitive structure that was fun to read. But the most fun was listening to all the theories around who was Senor Calavera and where did he want to take her?!
Danza! Amalia Hernandez and El Ballet Folklorico de Mexico by Duncan Tonatiuh
“I can’t wait to tell my mom about her, she will be so excited because she’s from Mexico City too!” A student couldn’t hold this in as I read the first few pages of Danza. Students enjoyed listening to Ami’s story and how she worked hard and was able to start her own dance school that became famous and toured all over the world.
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote by Duncan Tonatiuh
Many of students shared connections or stories while listening to this migrant’s tale. We took our time through this book and read it over a couple of days. Our conversations were deep, but felt as if they brought us a little more together. This tale takes readers through the experience of what it may be like to leave everything you k
now to go to the unknown. It was a powerful read for us.
Bravo by Margarita Engle
These poems were a window for most but also for some a mirror. They got to see themselves, their heritage, and culture celebrated through the hard work of the people honored in this book. We will continue to revisit these poems as a way to learn about people who have made a difference in our world.
Call me Tree, Llamame Arbol by Maya Christina Gonzalez
“Is this a yoga book Mrs. Burkins?” This bilingual text invites students to want to read both the English and Spanish. Many students physically tried the poses as the book was read aloud. One student even suggested we play soft music the next time we read it. They enjoyed the way the illustrations completely matched what the children were doing in the book. This was a very fun read with them.